VeriSign (verisign.com) said on Tuesday that worldwide domain name registrations had reached 76.9 million in the first quarter of 2005 - an eight percent growth over the fourth quarter of 2004 and a 22 percent increase over the first quarter of 2004. VeriSign's Domain Name Industry Brief showed that 6.7 million new domain names were registered in all top-level domains during the first quarter of 2005, resulting in the highest increase in domain name growth to date. The growth of new domain name registrations were spurred by a strengthening global economy, an increase in regular Internet users and the growing popularity of online advertising, VeriSign says. "Historically, an indicator of the health and growth of the Internet has been the number of domain names registered and renewed," says Raynor Dahlquist, vice president of naming services at VeriSign. "Given VeriSign's role as operator of the .com and .net infrastructure, we are uniquely positioned to see the trends and factors driving domain name growth, and ultimately, Internet growth." VeriSign also announced that it had released the Domain Name Industry Brief Regional Report for Asia, highlighting Internet usage and connectivity trends in Asia's three fastest expanding countries for Internet services - China, Japan and South Korea.